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The Minister of Social Affairs defends Social Security's misuse of power, and attacks freedom of expression by making threats the responsibility of the victim

27. september 2019 - International - af Aia Fog

In one sentence, the Minister endorses Social Services misuse of power, squashes freedom of speech, and declares its failure to protect that most basic of rights, freedom of speech. She also makes threats made to the victim, the victim’s problem and responsibility. 

On July 20, author and blogger Jaleh Tavakoli made her last post – so far - on her blog at Jyllands Posten (JP) and thus, in effect, sets a, until further notice, stop to her work as a debater.

The reason for this is that Social Services has put Jaleh Tavakoli and her husband under so-called tight supervision because they believe that her job as a blogger, debater and writer, is incompatible with the role of foster mother, because she occasionally receives threats - because of her writing.  Social Services can put foster parents under stricter supervision, if one “… is particularly concerned about operations, for the safety of the citizens or health”. Sharpened supervision is issued: “… when we are very concerned but still believe that that the action will correct the quality (of care)”, as stated on the Social Services Authority’s Homepage.

As many will know, in March this year, Jaleh Tavakoli was charged with having shared a murder video of the two young Scandinavian women murdered in Morocco.  It was in connection with this that Social Services wrote to Jaleh Tavakoli and her husband, that they intended to withdraw the care permit for the couple's 8-year-old daughter, whom the family has had in their care since she was just two days old. At this time, ie. in March this year, however, the rationale for social supervision was another.  Initially, social services claimed that it was the video of the killing of the two Scandinavian girls that made her unsuitable as a foster mother as she wasn’t a good "digital role model" for her daughter.

Now, however, the Social Services Authority have changed both sanction and justification, and even if one could, from an immediate point of view, be pleased that Jaleh Tavakoli and her husband are allowed to keep their daughter, then it may still prove to be a red herring, as everything suggests that Social Services, a public institution, is basically insisting on laying down an alarmingly undemocratic and unjustified justification for their decision, namely that the role of foster mother is incompatible with participation in the public debate.  Or, to put it another way: you cannot preserve your freedom of expression, if you want to be a foster parent.

It was already from the get-go an awful justification for wanting to remove from the family their right to care for their child by moving the child away from its family by claiming that Jaleh Tavakoli was unsuitable as a "digital role model".  You simply couldn’t get farther away from the child’s basic need for security and care.  With the rationale to tighten supervision of the family (Jaleh Tavakoli), by apparently down-scaling the intervention, Social Services has de facto given Jaleh Tavakoli an ultimatum: keep your mouth shut or we’ll take your foster daughter from you. This is a clear violation of the constitutional freedom of expression, and the right to participate in the public debate - now coming from an institution that is the very product of our democracy.

Add to this, the Social Security Authority's justification for strengthening supervision (monitoring):

Jaleh Tavakoli faces threats. In other words, it is the victim that becomes the criminal and who risks the state taking her foster daughter from her – because she is being threatened. This is not merely bowing to the “bullies’ prerogative”, it overrides the states’ supreme task and duty: to ensure the safety and security of its citizens.

One might then ask: is there no one who stands up to this blatant misuse of power by the Social Services authority? Apparently not. There is, on the contrary, nothing to suggest that to be the case.  When Karina Adsbøl from the Danish People’s Party last month asked Social Minister Astrid Krag to: “explain what initiatives the Minister intends to take in order to ensure that foster parents can express themselves in the public debate without risking losing the permit to care for their foster child”? the Minister replied, among other things: “If the actions of a foster family, including statements made, prove to have negative consequences for the children or adolescents placed in the family, this can be an element in the social supervision’s assessment of the quality of the care family”.

In one sentence, the Minister endorses Social Services misuse of power, squashes freedom of speech, and declares its failure to protect that most basic of rights, freedom of speech. She also makes threats made to the victim, the victim’s problem and responsibility. 

It is a scandalous response from a Minister.  It is, simply put, a response that shows blatant distain for our constitutional rights, outright legal incompetence – or both.  Either way it is not a stance worthy of a Minister in a democratic country under the rule of law.

Faced with the authorities' demands to keep their mouths shut, or else lose their permit to care for their foster child, Jaleh Tavakoli has done what any (foster) mother who loves her daughter would do: she has withdrawn and suspended her participation in the public debate.

Hopefully only temporarily.